Asian stocks ended mostly higher on Friday, with indices in Shanghai and Japan chalking up fresh multi-year highs ahead of U.S. jobs data.
China's Shanghai Composite (Shanghai Stock Exchange: .SSEC) swung between sharp gains and losses in an extremely volatile session, trading in a range of 165 points. The index has rallied sharply in the past two weeks following the central bank's surprise interest rate cut late last month and expectations of additional stimulus measures.
Market attention was on the U.S. November jobs report due later Friday. Economists are expecting a nonfarm payroll number of 230,000, which would top October's 214,000 reading, and for the jobless rate to hold steady at 5.8 percent.
Investors also digested reports of stimulus from the European Central Bank (ECB). On Thursday, ECB chief Mario Draghi said the central bank "stepped up" preparations for further asset purchases next year after leaving policy unchanged. His remarks came amid reports the central bank is considering a quantitative easing package for its next meeting in January.
Shanghai 1.3% higher
China's benchmark index hit another three-year high, extending gains from Thursday's 4 percent rally.
Citic Securities (Shanghai Stock Exchange: 30-SZ) surged 10 percent on reports Japanese trading giant Itochu (Tokyo Stock Exchange: 8001.T-JP) and Thailand's CP Group are taking a major stake in the brokerage.
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Haitong Securities (Shanghai Stock Exchange: 837-SZ) rallied 10 percent on news it is in talks to buy the investment banking arm of Portugal's Banco Espirito Santo (Euronext Lisbon: BES-PT). The move that would help the Portuguese central bank recoup funds after bailing out Espirito Santo earlier this year.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index (Hong Kong Stock Exchange: .HSI) jumped to a new one-week high following Thursday's 2 percent rally.
Nikkei up 0.2%
Japan's benchmark Nikkei (Nihon Kenzai Shinbun: .N225) index reversed losses to close at a new seven-and-a-half-year peak, extending gains into a sixth session, as the yen (Exchange:JPYUSD=) hit a new seven-year low of 120.1 per dollar.
Nissan Motor (Tokyo Stock Exchange: 7201.T-JP) and Fanuc (Tokyo Stock Exchange: 6954.T-JP) were some of the biggest gainers on the index, rising over 1 percent each.
ASX 0.6% lower
Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 (^AXJO) erased gains after hitting a new one-week high earlier in the session, while the Australian dollar (Exchange:AUD=) remained below 84 U.S. cents.
Mining products maker Bradken (ASX:BKN-AU) surged 36 percent after saying that it is considering a $730 million takeover offer from Pacific Equity Partners and Bain Capital.
Mount Gibson (ASX:MGX-AU) slumped 50 percent after announcing that it will gauge the price outlook for iron ore before deciding to reopen its Koolan mine in Western Australia.
South Korean shares erased earlier losses in a quiet session, managing to end at a new two-month high for the second straight session.
Indian shares retreated after hitting a record high of 8,627 points on Thursday.